Oktoberfest parties are raging, and so are Halloween parties. Which means, pumpkin spice this-and-that, candy bars, jugs of beer, pork knuckle… Translated to caloric intake, this final week of October will be up there with Christmas, Chinese New Year, Hari Raya, and that strange period in the year where everyone seems to be getting married. If you’re planning to gorge on some goodies, you’re likely going to be gaining some weight this season. Not just that, you may be raising your blood sugar levels and cholesterol significantly, and thus even be flirting with diabetes or hypertension. Sounds like us pooping all over your party? Not quite. To the contrary, we’re saving you from feeling guilty, undesirable, and unhealthy after all the partying. We want you to be feeling good about yourself throughout and after the festive season. And for that, you’ll need a gut check.
In most men, why we gain weight is a simple science: calories in, calories out. The way we take in calories is by eating – and yes, drinking. The way we lose calories is by doing everyday things like breathing and walking, but more importantly, by strenuous physical activity: jogging, dancing all night, or lifting in the gym. If you have a calorie surplus, you’re going to gain weight. If you have a deficit, you’ll lose weight.
Now, if you like the way you feel and look, and nothing in your life has changed except you’re partying for Oktoberfest, you’ll need to do some math to make sure you maintain “status quo” with your calories. A can of beer has about 150 calories or so (flavored ones can easily have double). Say at Oktoberfest, you drink 5 giant mugs of German lager or the equivalent in kitschy steins. That’s 5 liters of beer. Translated to calories, that’s 2,150, which is 150 calories more than an average person’s recommended daily intake. Imagine you dance moderately for an hour in total that night – congrats! You can take 350 calories off. You’re left with a surplus of 1,800 calories. But wait! You stole a bite of that yummy smoked bratwurst. In fact, you finished two of them. Now you’re back up to 2,200 calories.
Ziz iz für ze Table of one!!
If you’re the person we described above and doesn’t wish to change anything about your lifestyle, you can do one of a few things to get back to a calorie equilibrium: (a) starve yourself for 24 hours before or after, (b) miss a meal everyday for the next five days, (c) drink less beer at Oktoberfest.
LOSE THE WEIGHT BEFOREHAND!
Most guys will say: oh, I’ll worry about the weight afterwards. I don’t want to be counting calories while I’m having fun! Can you blame them? If you subscribe to that theory, see the options a, b, and c above. Alternatively, you can do the smart thing and lose the weight beforehand. Why is it smart? For one, you’re working towards a goal, with a great reward (OKTOBERFEST!). You’ll be more motivated than afterwards, when you’re staring down your bulging tummy. Also, you’re going to feel better about yourself as a result. You’re going to look better than everybody else at the party! Losing the weight after? Who needs to look good after a party?
In preparation for your big night out, start finding ways to sneak in more exercise, and sneak out more food. If you’re like the person in our example, who will likely be taking in a day’s worth of extra calories, it would behoove you to be in a caloric deficit at least a week before Oktoberfest. Increase your caloric output by going to the gym. If you already do, add another day or amp up the weights. Throw in some high-intensity interval sprinting for good measure. No gym membership? Go sprinting in the park (jogging takes too long). Build muscle, because muscle burns fat – so do some pull-ups, push-ups, and box jumps. Climb stairs instead of taking the elevator.
No such technology exists, so yeah, do the stairs.
The easier way, however, would be to control the intake. Skip lunch, but make sure you don’t eat more during breakfast or dinner. To be safe, have small snacks throughout the day, and note the calories on each one. Too much hassle? Control your portions. Leave a quarter of your food, or order smaller portions. Eat lighter, choosing raw unprocessed foods instead. Forget the dessert, drop the soda. And lose the booze – you’ll make up for it plenty.
Make sure you’ve lost one or two kilograms before Oktoberfest comes around, and you should be fine. Actually, with that weight loss, you’ll more likely be feeling better. Your clothes fit better, you’re looking trim, and your testosterone should have risen (thanks to the inverse relationship between body fat and testosterone levels). Higher testosterone means a jauntier libido, more confidence, a better mood and higher energy levels: perfect for partying!
EAT SENSIBLY DURING
Why do we associate overeating with celebration? Ever gone to a party and everyone’s half passed out on the couch moaning: wow, I think we overdid those box jumps, didn’t we?! Uh-uh. But it sure is okay, and a sign that a party has been successful, when folks lay about saying they ate too much and can’t do anything else. No one’s questioning the satisfaction indulging in food and wine (in this case, beer) can bring, but do we need to “pay it back” by feeling guilt and sick afterwards? Why can’t we enjoy it and leave the party still feeling enjoyable? Must it always end with a rub on a distended midriff, and a “maybe I shouldn’t have”, or feeling tired out from doing nothing more than stuffing your face?
Eat your heart out! This image would be good for people who’re dieting.
No it does not. Of course not. The way to enjoy a party and feel good after too is, you guessed it! Moderation. Be sensible. Nibble – don’t gorge. With sweets, only have a thumb’s size of each. With food, pick a bit of every dish you like, but commit to filling only half your plate each time. Finish everything (or the bits you like), and go for seconds, each time filling only half your plate. When we have lots of food in front of us, we tend to eat it all. Breaking it into sections means we can pace ourselves, and who knows, you might already feel full after your first! Especially if you ate the “healthier” stuff first – the green vegetables, salad, eggs, etc.
With booze, everyone has their own limit. Truth is, alcohol suppresses the appetite, so drinking liberally at the outset may end up saving you some calories later. Our advice is to treat booze like your food – pace yourself (but load up at the beginning). Drink it for the taste, not the effect it gives. If you won’t drink four glasses of orange juice in a sitting, why should you do it with beer?
DEALING WITH IT AFTER
What doesn’t get measured, doesn’t improve. The one way to figure out if you’ve overeaten is to do a good old before-and-after. Weigh yourself right now. And if you have some measuring tape, go ahead and measure your gut right above the hip-bone. That’s where most men carry fat, and any increase in those inches spells trouble! Commit to weighing and measuring yourself at the end of the festive season – after the late-night boozing, party buses, and candy-munching. If you’ve grown some, you know you overate. Which means it’s time to start eating better. Dealing with the gut after is not just about losing the weight you may have packed on. It’s also about tuning your gut health back to its optimum, and no, hair of the dog isn’t going to help that.
See how excited one can be over lettuce? That should be you.
Simply put, a good diet is a balanced diet. Ignore the noise about eating very little of this, and a lot of that – like keto or paleo or whatever’s in vogue. The optimal proportion of carbs-protein-fat is 40-40-20. A good gauge for your own body size is your fist. Three meals a day of a fist size of good protein, a fist size of carbs, and a fist or two of vegetables, and you’ll be fine. The fat usually comes hidden somewhere you don’t notice.
Avoid oily, fried, or processed foods (canned stuff, fast-food, etc). Eat leafy green, high-fiber vegetables, because the fiber is better than any prebiotic to help balance out your tummy’s fauna and flora. Pick your protein wisely. Good options are eggs (a whole food), white chicken or turkey meat, fatty fish like salmon, and lean beef. Remember that the preparation of your food adds a whole bunch of calories, too. Avoiding stir-fried, grilled, or deep-fried foods. Instead, choose boiled, soupy (clear), broiled, or steamed options.
Now you know how to party and stay fit, because partying smart means you don’t have to be gaining weight. Stay well, my friends, and enjoy.